delay c-bet bluff

Want Your Bluffs to Work More Often? Try “Delaying” Them

You’re about to learn a tactic that will help you steal pots from right under your opponent’s nose…

…and they won’t even know it happened.

The tactic involves checking back on the flop as the preflop aggressor, only to bet on the turn. This is referred to as a delayed continuation bet (c-bet).

We’ve covered delayed c-betting in a general sense in the past (see: article), but the focus today will be on delayed c-betting as a bluff when in position.

First, I’ll take a step back and go over why you shouldn’t always c-bet on the flop.

From there, you’ll learn 4 tips for delayed c-betting as a bluff so you can start implementing this tactic during your next poker session.

At the end, you’ll find a short quiz that will test your newfound delayed c-betting knowledge and help you absorb what you learned.

Let’s begin!

Why You Shouldn’t Always C-Bet on the Flop

You should c-bet very often when you are in position on the flop, but you shouldn’t do so 100% of the time.

C-betting 100% of the time is not optimal because it opens the door to being countered by skilled players. This is the case even if you’re using a small c-bet size.

Specifically, your opponents can exploit your wide c-betting range with an aggressive check-raising strategy. This will force you to fold with very weak hands, surrendering equity, which is horrible given that you had the option to check back and see the turn card for free.

Here’s a couple of examples of hands that are too weak to c-bet with:

  • A 6♠ on J 8♣ 4
  • K♣ T♠ on Q♣ 7 5

Now you know why you shouldn’t c-bet 100% of the time as a standard…

…however, there is a situation where using a 100% c-bet strategy is optimal.

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When You Can C-Bet 100% (or Near 100%) of the Time

Sometimes you will be up against a less skilled, passive opponent who will not check-raise often enough and/or fold too often versus your c-bet.

Against such a player, your life is made easy. You can take constant stabs at the pot with very weak hands and expect to make a substantial amount of profit by doing so.

To emphasize this point, take a look at how PioSolver c-bets on an extremely wet board (J♠ 9 7) against an opponent who doesn’t check-raise at all:

When the opponent won’t check-raise, PioSolver c-bets 96% of the time on J♠ 9 7(Red = Bet, Green = Check)

As you can see, PioSolver c-bets almost 100% of the time. This is because it knows it will always see the turn, as well as have an opportunity to see a free river by checking back on the turn (unless the opponent donk-bets).

So, if you’re up against an opponent who check-raises very infrequently, consider firing a c-bet with your entire range (or at least the vast majority of it).

Let’s get back to the main topic.

4 Tips for Delay C-Bet Bluffing

After checking back on the flop, what do you do on the turn when your opponent checks to you again?

Once again, you should try to play a decently well-balanced strategy as a default. Following these tips will help you do that.

Tip #1: Keep your bluffing range narrow

Since most, if not all your strong hands will c-bet on the flop, your get-to-turn range will be pretty gutted in value. (That is unless you spike something strong enough to value bet twice with, such as a top pair.)

Because of your narrow value range, your bluffing range should also be narrow. Choose your bluffs carefully based on the advice in tips #2-4.

Tip #2: Mostly bluff with drawing hands

You need to choose your bluffs somehow, and the best way to do so is by equity. In practice, this means you should tend to bluff with drawing hands such as gutshots, open-enders, and flush draws.

Of course, you won’t always have these prime semi-bluffing hands in your get-to-turn range, in which case you should fall back on tip #3.

Tip #3: You can start bluffing with the lowest hands in your range

You can also start bluffing on the turn with weak, junky hands (such as jack-high and lower). These hands don’t have any showdown value and they won’t make up a big portion of your range.

You should bluff with these hands in combination with the semi-bluffs from tip #2. If your range lacks semi-bluff hands, these low hands will make up your entire bluffing range.

When the draws in your range complete on the river, these low hands are perfect candidates to bluff again. Your opponent may think “all of the draws got there…I can’t beat anything” and fold to your bet.

Tip #4: Don’t bluff with hands that have showdown value

Hands with that have a decent chance to win at showdown should not be included in your bluffing range, even when that hand is a draw. For example, AT might have a gutshot on KQ23, but you should still check back with it most of the time.

Bluff with the hands that are talked about in tips #2 and 3 and lean towards checking with hands like A-high and K-high.

Quiz Time

All of these quiz hands started the same way: you raised preflop on the button, the player in the big blind called, and the action checked through on the flop.

Good luck!

If the quiz is not displaying just above this line,

How’d You Do?

Let me know how many questions you answered correctly in the comments below. Feel free to ask any questions about delayed c-betting there as well and I will do my best to answer.

If you answered all questions correctly, nice job! You’ve understood the technical aspect of this spot and are likely ready to deploy it at the tables.

If you didn’t get all four questions correct, take a few minutes to review what you’ve just read. You can test what you learned again with this 10-question delayed c-bet quiz.

That’s all for this article! I hope you learned something new from it!

Til’ next time, good luck, grinders!

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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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